Make sure that any fabrics you use for upholstery and curtains are flame-retardant. The law, referred to as TB 117, was passed in California in 1975, stating that the foam inside upholstered furniture must resist flames. This is especially important in homes where smokers reside as it helps prevent fires from dropped cigarettes. All new sofas have to meet strict fire regulations; however, second-hand ones may have been made before the rules about upholstery were written.

Refrain from leaving dryers running when not at home. In 1998, there were 14,300 home fires related to dryers.

Never run an empty microwave. It can cause overheating and serious damage.

Paint is flammable. Store in a climate-controlled area away from heat sources.

Never use a metal ladder around power lines or electrical wiring; a metal ladder will pose the risk of electric shock.

The single most important fire preventive measure is to equip your home with working smoke detectors. Remember to test them every month and replace the batteries annually.

To prevent scalding, make sure your water heater temperature is set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping a phone list in the kitchen near the phone is not just convenient, but a safety feature as well. Jot down phone numbers for the police, fire department, doctors, family members or neighbors so if you have to act quickly you can.

Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with the beginning and ending of Daylight Savings Time.

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